Pan American Preview: Horse-by-Horse Analysis of Saturday's Grade II Race @GP

Trainer Mike Maker (pictured above, courtesy of Coady Photo) has a strong pair of runners drawn in for the annual renewal of the Grade II Pan American Stakes at Gulfstream Park. See whether either of them deserve favoritism...
Trainer Mike Maker (pictured above, courtesy of Coady Photo) has a strong pair of runners drawn in for the annual renewal of the Grade II Pan American Stakes at Gulfstream Park. See whether either of them deserve favoritism...

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1 ½ (Turf), Pan American Stakes, Purse $200k, 4+

The Grade II Pan American at Gulfstream Park is the signature grass race on the Florida Derby undercard. It seems like almost each year it has a different trainer who wins this contest. Some important routers have won this distance test, and they include names like, Newsdad, Twilight Eclipse, Imagining, Kaigun, Sadler’s Joy, Focus Group, and last year’s victor—Bemma’s Boy. Normally, trainer Mike Maker has a strong hand coming in, and this year is no exception. Who will have the power to outlast them all, as the field passes the grandstand 2x…  

Now, let’s find out about this field…


#1 Cross Border (Jky: T. Gaffalione/Trn: M. Maker):

Trainer Mike Maker’s Cross Border #1 has not won a race since scoring in a 85k “Non-G” event back in July at Saratoga. However, he has pretty much been in the hunt in 5 of the last 6 races he has entered. The 7-yr-old is as good as ever, when it comes to routing on the turf, and he clearly is at home at Gulfstream. Last out against what many thought was a weak field (I didn’t btw), he finished just behind the Pletcher pair of Colonel Liam and Largent. He showed a nice late turn-of-foot, and at 14/1 was certainly a square price. That kind of movement forward bodes well against this group. I like his chances, especially with Tyler Gaffalione back aboard. His turf riding over the past year continues apace.

Grade: A


#2 Temple (Jky: I. Ortiz/Trn: M. Maker):

It has been even longer since Paradise Farms’ Temple #2, Maker’s other entry, has won a race. You have to go back to April 2020, when Florida was headed deep into the pandemic, to find a score on top. There is no doubt this son of Temple City is talented, and with Irad Ortiz riding for the 3rd straight time, he is going to naturally be a short price. His past 2 races have taken him along the traditional trail that longer turf routers take in S. Florida. It is always the McKnight (G3)/MacDia (G2), and Maker has had him ready for both. In a sense, he probably will enjoy the move from 1 3/8th back to 1 ½. If Irad can bully his way into position, like he is prone to do in contested grass races, then he may well win the day.

Grade: A-


#3 Sadler’s Joy (Jky: J. Ortiz/Trn: T. Albertrani):

Trainer Tom Albertrani is no stranger to this race or Gulfstream Park. He has won the Pan Am (G2) on 2 occasions, and one of those back in 2017, went to this horse, Sadler’s Joy #3. This horse personifies hard-knocking, and at 8-yrs-old, he just keeps on trucking. It may not look like it from the abbreviated PPs that list his races since late 2019, but jockey Jose Ortiz used to be his regular rider. Even though he has not won a race since last August, he still at any point can cruise to a major victory. That makes him exceedingly dangerous. He might be long in the tooth, so to speak, but that does not mean he isn’t fit. When I see 2, 4th place finishes in a row, against “G” Co., then it is a warning—take notice.   

Grade: B


#4 Rijeka (IRE) (Jky: J. Castellano/Trn: S. Joseph):

I like Saffie Joseph and the energy/ambition he brings to every entry. You throw enough quality darts at a board, and one is going to eventually hit the bullseye. I am not sure if this is one of them, since Rijeka #4 has never faced this kind of competition. What can be said is that he is being piloted by one of the greatest grass riders of all-time—Javier Castellano. At post time, this son of Roderic O’Connor (IRE) will be a massive overlay. Count on it… oh, and he has a legit chance to hit the board, in my humble opinion.    

Grade: B-


#5 Angelus Warrior (Jky: L. Reyes/Trn: A. Delgado):

As we move down the gates, heading towards the outside runners, there are going to be some prices out this way. Do not underestimate them... Even though Angelus Warrior #5 is ridden by the less-experienced Leo Reyes, does not mean that his mount does not have a chance. Recall, this colt was once trained by the Maker Barn, and he turned out a few nice “Non-G” performances. Since switching to Alexis Delgado’s outfit 2 races back, this 4-yr-old has exhibited little in the way of effort. Finishing 6th in OC62.5k races, which were both shorter routes, will not cut it here. Delgado is hoping that the dam bloodline link to Lady’s Quest will pull this colt through. Very tough angle to rest any hopes on… or money, for that matter.  

Grade: C-


#6 Sir Sahib (Jky: E. Zayas/Trn: J. Corrales):

Jose Corrales does not enter many “Graded” matches, but he is trying to once again with a former Kevin Attard runner named Sir Sahib #6. I don’t know how successful he will be, since this is a 6-yr-old gelding who is 2/23 lifetime when it comes to “wins.” That is not especially enticing, especially when it comes to this field. Sure, he was in the McKnight (G3)/MacDia (G2) sequence, but the results were less than savory. Certainly, he improved from a 10th to a 5th place finish. Still, there is probably just too much for Ed Zayas to do in this situation. His turf patience is just too spotty for my taste anyway…

Grade: C


#7 Moon Over Miami (Jky: J. Alvarado/Trn: B. Mott):

When Bill Mott and Junior Alvarado used to get together for turf races, they produced mixed results. Lately though, Alvarado seems hotter, and has some nice performances to look back on. Recently, he travelled up to Tampa, and piloted some scores. Whether he can take Mott’s Moon Over Miami #7 all the way to the wire for a “Win” is up for debate. My sense is that it is possible, but not probable. In his defense, the 4-yr-old colt did come in 3rd last time in the MacDia (G2), which was off the shelf. That is not easy to do in a field like that one. If this son of Malibu Moon can improve off that effort, go a bit longer, and leave enough in the tank for a gear-up towards the top of the lane, then a chance he might have… Otherwise, this is just another example of a younger entry that is just not ready to face those that are older.

Grade: B-


#8 Churn N Burn (Jky: J. Leparoux/Trn: I. Wilkes):

Ian Wilkes keeps butting his head up against these types of races, which he does not have a good record when it comes to competing. Outside the Upper South, his %s just plumet, so that makes me think that Julien Leparoux is going to have to pull a fast one, getting Churn N Burn #8 to the lead early. If he cannot, then it is going to be tough to see him rating well enough to challenge some of the late comers that are drawn in here. Moving up from OC35k Co. into this spot is a dickens of an attempt. Not to be recommended for the meek. Leparoux has used this tactic before in turf routes, so it is not without precedent. Crafty veteran…

Grade: C+


Join us Saturday for all of our Gulfstream Park selections! Should be a great set of races for Florida Derby Day!

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